The third and final season of the Amazon Original was released earlier in 2019 but for viewers catching up on the show, here’s a Sneaky Pete season 1 recap. Crime dramedy Sneaky Pete is the brainchild of Bryan Cranston and House creator David Shore and was initially developed as a procedural drama for CBS. After CBS passed on Sneaky Pete’s pilot, the series was shopped to Amazon where it found a home after a few tweaks to make it less procedural drama, more character-driven serial with the help of Justified creator Graham Yost who took over from Shore after he left the project.
Giovanni Ribisi stars as antihero Marius Josipovic, a conman who – after a three-year stint in jail – assumes the identity of his cellmate Pete Murphy (Ethan Embry) to con his estranged family who Pete hasn’t seen in 20 years. The reason? Marius owes gangster Vince (Bryan Cranston) $100,000 and his brother Eddie (Michael Drayer) is being held captive until he pays. Unfortunately for Marius, what Pete described as his family’s bond business turns out to be a not-so-lucrative bail bonds company. Needing a place to hide out until he stumps up the $100k, Marius sticks around with his (or rather Pete’s) long-lost family to find another way to con them.
In Sneaky Pete season 1, it’s also revealed the family the real Pete spoke so fondly of are a lot more dysfunctional than he thought. Matriarch and patriarch Audrey (Margo Martindale) and Otto Bernhardt’s (Peter Gerety) bail bond business is failing, which leads Otto to hire a hitman to kill him so his family can collect his life insurance – a plan which thankfully fails. Marius’ new ‘cousins’ aren’t faring much better. Taylor (Shane McRae) is a police officer having an affair with a married woman, Julia (Marin Ireland) is rekindling her relationship with sleazy ex Lance (Jacob Pitts) and teenager Carly (Libe Barer) is a pro-shoplifter in the making.
Throughout Sneaky Pete season 1, Marius grows fond of his new fake family. When he finds out Lance has conned Audrey out of money she needs to pay back a dangerous client named Dockery (Chaske Spencer), Marius helps her devise a plan to get it back. Their lives - and lies - become more entwined when Marius makes off with the money meant for Dockery, and corrupt cop and Vince’s goon Winslow shows up at the Bernhardt's and Audrey ends up implicated in his death.
In the closing episodes of the first season of Sneaky Pete, it seems Marius has betrayed his faux family but he comes good in the finale. After paying off Vince, Marius pulls a convoluted con against him in a poker game that earns him more money than he originally owed and ends with Vince headed to jail after shooting a federal agent. Marius gets his brother Eddie back and heads to the Bernhardts – who still haven’t figured out he’s not Pete – to return their money. While posing as Pete has worked out pretty well for Marius so far, it comes back to bite him in cliffhanger final moments of Sneaky Pete season 1 when he’s kidnapped by two thugs looking for the real Pete Murphy who owes their boss a ton of money.